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Author Topic: Aquaponic Garden Trial.  (Read 2603 times)
Bee Happy
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Location: Between Panama city, Florida and Dothan Al.

that's me - setting a phoenix free


« on: February 22, 2013, 02:04:26 PM »

I was bumbling along, watching gardening videos on You Tube (lots of great stuff on there.) for how to take best advantage of a green house. I revisited "Hydroponics" because of the vertical and slanted space advantages - and ran into "Aquaponics" - using the waste water from fish. (There's been bream - that's bluegills for y'all up north. - for about four years, that I put in there with my step-grandson.) The ammonia in the "fish pee" meets a bacteria that converts it to nitrogen fertilizer compounds. (Etc. boring stuff) and the plants are on a steady ebb and flow watering system with a siphon drain.  This is a completely new thing for me (I'll be moving the bees closer, too.) since our soil seems to hate water - even though I keep adding organinc materials to it every year. - the exchange is that the system "purifies" and aerates the water for the fish, helping them grow more efficiently. I'm fond of those self-sustaining systems because I think it's neato, and not for more elaborate reasoning.
I'll keep on sharing posts, and try to update on the developing system - If it goes well with Bream, we'll set one up for Tilapia - because they can be grown at a shockingly high density. (One fish per gallon - which equates to seven per cubic foot, although I'd say 5 because the fish displace water... bottom line a 300 gallon tank pretty easily hold 200 fish, but you have to "dispose" of the waste.)
The bed, made from the roofing tin of a torn down eyesore. (you can say "old junk" or "recycling" - it's the same thing.) The panels were 10 feet long, and since cutting aluminum is LOUD I decided three pieces for two cuts would suit me.

- inside the bed. I still have a bunch of shoring and bracing to do before filling to about a foot shy of the top. Then I'll top it up with pea gravel as the growing medium.
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Joe D
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2013, 02:36:48 PM »

Good luck with it, Bee Happy.



Joe
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Vance G
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2013, 03:34:43 PM »

While attempting to garden the gumbo clay soil in my yard I always added more organic material every year and I got 'ADOBE'.  Rose bushes like the soil and it was easier. 
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squidink
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2013, 03:38:12 PM »

Looking good mate!
I run a much smaller 1000 litre system with excellent success.

Cheers
Ben
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Bee Happy
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that's me - setting a phoenix free


« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2013, 04:13:28 PM »

Thanks you guys.
 Vance, our soil is very sandy and at the same time seems to hate absorbing water. I've been composting leaves and piling dead leaves in there to try and get it to become more absorbent - I have a ways to go but in the meantime I might get a salad or two this way. (maybe some fried, crunchy fins too.)
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hjon71
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2013, 02:22:01 PM »

Update?
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Bee Happy
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that's me - setting a phoenix free


« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2013, 03:35:59 PM »

Update?

  Yes. I think it's due.
Squidink: I should have gone and found myself a few hundred litre tank to work with - I made a critical, critical mistake that I didn't realize until I studied more after I was up and running. - that pond is about 100,000 liters and I wound up spiking the Nitrates and killing all of the bluegill. (fortunately, there was a population explosion in the much heartier minnows to prevent a complete system failure.) 
I saw  Murray Hallam (sp?) video after I got started, in which he mentioned what happens when your plant bed isn't at least a match for the fish tank volume, or three times bigger if you can - oops.
The bed shown began leaking like a seive and I wound up building a smaller one to move the plants into. Looks like I'm still learning, but I had some great results with it.
Here's some pictures:


This is the "new" plant bed in the foreground, it's only 8" deep, so it needs work next time.





Only one of my cucumber plants survived after a dry spell while I sorted some issues with the pump - it grew into a jungle unto itself and yielded about 30 cucumbers (huge, huge cucumbers) so far. I'm calling this one a win.

The tomato plant - only shown early in the bed overview has become a monster as well. (a late bloomer, but another win.)
Some things were a little slow to start, and I have a bit to learn about supplemental nutrients - I also need a smaller tank to work from for next season so I don't kill the fish I buy. (and maybe some new bluegills in the old pond again) 
I had better luck with cantaloupe than I ever had - which is to say they formed fruit - which died before I got them (still heading in the right direction). I got some Okra and a few anaheim peppers, a couple eggplant (too few) and a big red bell pepper.
I've had fair results overall (some serious gardeners would scoff, but my success in dirt has been so hit-and-miss that it's all positive change for me.
I'd recommend it to anyone.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 07:19:58 PM by Bee Happy » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2013, 06:07:35 PM »

ok, so as a cost analyses, how much did you pay, in time, money dead fish, for the produce you received total?
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Bee Happy
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that's me - setting a phoenix free


« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2013, 07:19:25 PM »

The dead fish were initially free (along with the oval swimming pool liner that became my pond), so I have to call that one an intangible loss.
I plan to expand and use used shipping pallets (free) and 10 mil plastic to repair the leaky bed. (and 4" drainpipe for lettuce production later at about $6 a 10' stick.)
I paid about $200.00 for 3 yards of 3/4" gravel.
The (new) pump was $45 and it came with an 8' pool - I guess I could  grow duckweed in that for the chickens.
The 6 mil plastic was about $25.00 for 10x100, but it's still too thin for a liner, so I'll be paying $60 for the 10 mil next time.
I figure about $400.00 to get up and running - more if you must have all new materials.
If I paid retail for everything I've had "organically  grown" this year it would probably be $80. -  which sounds like a loss, but I expect to get better organized in my use of space and timing; and use everything but pumps indefinitely (10 years would sound reasonable, barring a drunkard crashing into my garden). In addition to that, I have time this year for another growing cycle - so maybe a round $120 allowing for poor performance could be figured.
Assuming $500.00 expense, I'd have to produce for about 5 years to get past break-even if I don't change anything.
The real value to me can't be assigned a price, though - when you buy produce at the fruit stand, it may have been picked over several days before - or maybe the day before - loaded for transport before dawn - which is crazy fresh. - I can tell you what time today squash on my plate was picked before dinner.  (A day's freshness actually makes a difference with corn, but I couldn't say the same for everything else.)
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« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2013, 12:03:11 AM »

ah.....ok. interesting.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2013, 12:19:01 AM »

Good job bee happy. applause

I applaud your effort.  There are a couple of guys I know around me with aquaponic setups.  They have very elaborate engineered setups .  They look like lots and lots of $$$$ to my eyes.  However as with other endeavors in life, you can’t always put a price on personal enjoyment.  It’s great to have a hobby that makes lots of $$$$, but how often does that happen?  I know car guys who spend thousands of $$$ on just a crankshaft.
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hjon71
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« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2013, 10:08:01 AM »

Thanks for the update.
A few veggies and a bit of knowledge gained sounds like you did OK. Plan to continue?? This idea is very interesting. I know YouTube makes everything look easy but there is a fair bit of science and experimenting involved to get these projects dialed in.
I am all about self maintaining systems I can benefit from. Best of luck, maybe some "fried crunchy fins" next time.
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Bee Happy
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that's me - setting a phoenix free


« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2013, 01:09:31 AM »

 drowning Definitely a smaller fish tank next season, but I'm hooked (that wasn't meant to be a pun.)
I think it's a great hobby: easy to learn and get started, but challenging to master (?) - (I'll let you know when I master it?).
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